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Poems and Rhymes 

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Poems and Rhymes 


Jeffery Day 

Flight-Commander, R.N.A.S. 


London : Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd. 
3 Adam Street, Adelphi, W.C.2 191 9 

First published in 1919 
All rights reserved 




• 7 


AN airman's dream 

. 29 


. 33 


• 37 


. 38 


. 41 


. 43 



• 47 


. 50 

DAWN . ... 

. 51 


. 53 


. 55 


. 59 


. 63 



" Here is a young writer," a reader of these verses 
may guess, " untrammelled by literary traditions. 
He does not write as a literary man would write, 
but he writes musically and he knows the differ- 
ence between prose and verse. Probably he is a 
young airman newly led to poetry by the wonders 
of flight." 

The guess would be right. These were the 
writer's first and last verses. The growth of 
power shown by the short series suggests to us 
that, had he lived, his name might have been added 
to the golden roll of poets ; but it is written 
clearly on the golden roll of warriors only, and for 
the rest he must be numbered amongst " the 
inheritors of unfulfilled renown." 

Miles Jeffery Game Day was a Fhght-Com- 
mander in the naval air service, and one of its 
most brilliant young officers. He was born at 
St. Ives, Hunts, on December ist, 1896, of a 
family settled for generations on the banks of the 
Ouse. He was at school at Sandroyd House 
and at Repton ; and at eighteen years of age 
he received his commission as sub-lieutenant. 
From the first he showed exceptional skill as 
a pilot, and was chosen for work at sea that 
needed high technical accomplishment. But 
he was dissatisfied with the comparative in- 


activity of the life afloat, and secured his transfer 
to a fighting squadron on the Western front. 
Already famous in his service as a master of the 
art of flight, in France he became famous as a 
fighter also, and received the distinguished 
service cross " for great skill and bravery as a 
fighting pilot.' " 

But when that announcement was gazetted 
the end had already come in a characteristic act 
of audacity and self-sacrifice. On February 27th, 
1918, to quote his commanding officer's account, 

" he was shot down by six German aircraft 
which he attacked single-handed, out to sea. He 
had out-distanced his flight, I think because he 
wished to break the [enemy's] formation, in order 
to make it easier for the less experienced people 
behind him to attack. He hit the enemy and 
they hit his machine, which burst into flames ; 
but, not a bit flurried, he nose-dived, flattened out, 
and landed perfectly on the water. He climbed 
out of his machine and waved his fellow-pilots 
back to their base ; being in aeroplanes [not sea- 
planes] they could not assist him." 

Immediate and prolonged search was made for 
him, but in vain. 

Such is the short record of his life, a record that 
can do no more than suggest the personahty 


behind. The picture of that, a gracious and a 
glorious thing, can best be filled in by the words 
of one that knew him well both in his service and 
in his writing. 

" It was at Harwich late in 1916 that I first 
met Jeff Day. I was sitting with E. C. in the 
gathering place of naval officers, the hall of an 
hotel, and we were I remember in a critical and 
discontented humour about England and the war. 
Enghsh people, we were saying, have too low a 
standard of industry and devotion : they make 
too much of their amusements and their leisure ; 
for all their courage they lack the spirit of aggres- 
sion. ' It comes to this ' I said, ' there are too 
many of us that are not " all out." ' We agreed 
in that ; and then C. called my attention to a 
young sub-heutenant of the R.N.A.S, who was 
waiting for his tea at the far end of the room, a 
lad of small stature with a bright, strong face. 
' There is a lad that would cheer you up ' he said ; 
and when I asked why, ' talk of " all out ! " ' he 
answered, '' he is pure gold.' He called the sub- 
lieutenant over to share our tea and we spoke of 
their common adventures in the North Sea, of 
the war in the air, and of how dull it was at 

" My first thought as he joined us was ' what a 
£ne head ! it is hke that of some Florentine 


knight modelled by Donatello, who made the 
St. George.' When he began to speak I felt at 
once (hke all that met him) the attraction of his 
manner, so gentle yet so absorbed and so full of 
restrained vitality, of his velvet voice, and of his 
eager talk. ' Here ' I said to myself, ' is a boy 
with a beautiful manner. He is very much alive 
too, and interested in what he says. The things 
that he says come fresh from his thoughts, they 
are not said parrot-wise. It would be pleasant 
to meet him again,' and I schemed to do so. 
We were talking about teas, and he told us of a 
farm that he had found in a wood beyond the 
river where there was still a good tea to be had, as 
good as before the war. " It really is a perfectly 
good tea ' he said, and made us feel as happy as 
possible because he himself was so happy in the 
thought of the tea. I got a promise from him 
on the spot that he would guide me to his farm 
on the next Sunday. 

" C. had spoken to him as ' Babe ' only, and it 
was not until he left that I learnt his proper name. 
I remembered then that I had heard in my ship 
some gossip about one Day. I had heard him 
spoken of as a young pilot in a seaplane carrier 
who could do things with an aeroplane that nobody 
else could do. The Flag-Commander had been to 
see him fly and they had made his hair stand on 
end, he had said, the things that he had seen, the 


loops and spins. It was an arresting thing that 
the airman of whom I had heard as a wonder of 
skill and daring and the boy who was so keen about 
his tea should be one and the same. 

" The next Sunday we met on the jetty and 
walked out to his farm beyond the river. He 
had first noticed the farm as he flew over it, and 
he and his shipmates had hunted it out and made 
it their meeting-place. The motherly heart 
of the woman of the place was quite enslaved by 
him ; she greeted him then and always with great 
fuss and outcries. Here was Mr. Day ; she 
knew the tea that he liked ; fresh eggs, how 
many ? (three) ; hot scones and butter, and her 
own jam. Mr. Day was the gentleman that did 
funny things to amuse her when he flew overhead. 
She wished that he wouldn't, it made her heart 
jump. Her tongue ran on and on about her Mr. 
Day, and the tea when it came had a plenty and 
a freshness that were a tribute of true affection. 
When we had finished it we went and looked at 
the young things on the farm, the chickens, 
duckUngs, and colts. They gave him keen dehght ; 
he was of their company and knew their ways in 
play. His first favourite, though, was an old 
gander, that would put its head down and charge 
him the length of the field. It was a stout- 
hearted old bird, he said, and whenever he came 
to the farm he got up a row with it, 


" As we walked out along the shores of the 
tidal river that afternoon and he talked to me about 
the air I began to feel hke one on the verge of a 
surprising and fortunate discovery. ' Here ' I was 
thinking, ' is something much more than a lad 
with a charming manner. C. was right ; here is 
a warrior spirit keen and strong as a sword.' 
And as we returned in the evening and the 
restraint of strangeness grew less I felt that the 
discovery had been made. ' Here ' I told myself 
then, ' is something more even than a high warrior 
spirit ; here is one that embraces with impetuous 
yet delicate sympathy all vital and beautiful 
things. Vitahty runs out of him in a bubbhng 
stream. He has more enjoyment of all things 
worth enjoying and he is better able to express his 
enjoyinent than anybody I ever knew. Nor is 
his enjo3mient mere animal good spirits. It has 
a deeper root in a quick humour for the comic 
element in hfe and in keen appreciation of all 
lovely and hearty things, whether of the natural 
world or of the mind. When he speaks of some 
wonderful flight through clouds and sunshine I 
can feel the air rushing past me and revel v.dth 
him in the miracles of hght and colour that he 
has seen. But there is a better thing still. It is 
not about his own marvellous service that he 
likes best to talk : he is happiest when he is talking 
about country places and especially about his own 


country-side of river, fen, and mere. He loves 
them truly and he has with them an intimate 
companionship. With his love and intimacy he 
can paint in his talk pictures of them so bright 
and actual that I can hardly believe that I have 
not been with him for long night hours in his 
boat upon the river or lying at dusk among the 
reeds to wait for the homing waterfowl. He 
talks of them like a poet, I thought, a poet that 
has walked hand in hand with nature. 

" When we separated to go each to his ship I 
found myself still thinking about him with delight 
and wonder. Can it really be — my thoughts ran 
thus — that here is one of those natures which 
we may dream about but can hardly hope to find, 
a nature made after the manner of Philip Sidney, 
poet and knight in one ? I have known in the war 
other men of transcendent courage and devotion, 
but they had not the poet's power of under- 
standing the great value and beauty of Hfe. I 
have known other men with the poet's power, but 
they had not the high quahties of courage and 
devotion that would have made themselves as 
beautiful as their poems. I have never known 
before one that combined those two things, but 
I believe that I know one now. And then I 
thought of Jeff's effervescent gaiety and of his 
simple and youthful distrust of solemn and 
difficult things. How astonished he would be at 


these reflections ! But in spite of that I was 
sure that I was right about the discovery, and 
thereafter the better I knew him the more sure I 

" Since his ship lay far from mine and the farm 
was remote we could not meet very often, so we 
started a lively correspondence that went back- 
wards and forwards in the duty boat. With one 
of his letters he sent me a pamphlet of Christmas 
jokes that he had written to amuse his ward-room. 
Some of the short rhymes in it seemed to me very 
well done. I remember in particular one that he 
had written about himself : 

' Chatter, chatter, little Day ! 
What a lot you've got to say — 
Umpty-thousand words a minute 
Even your Maxim isn't in it ! ' 

The turning of them suggested that he had a 
natural faculty for rhyming, and when next we 
met he confessed that he did sometimes write 
verses, ' lots of them, like Gilbert.' But these 
diversions, he maintained, were not to be taken 
seriously. It was to be understood that he had 
the misfortune to be a creature of moods. He 
wrote verses hard for a bit and then drew hard for 
a bit and then did nothing at all for a bit but sit 
still. He had to do things straight off and at full 
speed or not at all. 



About those moods of his he was quite right. 
Things rushed up out of his mind with an irresistible 
impulse and then stopped until something else 
began to rush. Even in conversation the spark- 
ling stream would sometimes stop quite dead 
and he would drift away into rapt and inward 
contemplation of things that one was not told 
about. It was always so if the conversation, as 
conversations will in a mess, became dull or coarse. 
I think that then without any conscious effort he 
stopped hearing it and began to attend inwardly 
to some jolly thing, some good joke, some adven- 
ture of the air, some memory of his river. He 
would sit by, leaning forward with an intent look, 
and give a httle laugh now and then as if he were 
hstening to what was being said. But in fact 
he was Hstening only to his own joUier thoughts, 
and suddenly he would tumble back into the 
conversation with some perfectly inapposite 
remark which came as a rebuke to the groundlings, 
effectual, though quite unintended. 

" In spite of his diffidence the poetry that 
gleamed at times in his talk and in his letters about 
the air and the country made it clear that it was 
weU worth while that he should take his verse- 
writing more seriously than he was yet incUned : 
so I urged him to write something about the air, 
not like Gilbert, but less burlesque. His answer 
was the poem " On the wings of the morning." 


A month or two later came his second poem " An 
airman's dream." This was all his own idea. 
It was written off at great speed, he enjoyed 
writing it tremendously, and always spoke of it 
with the most engaging admiration. Probably he 
would not have written it quite as he did but for 
Rupert Brooke's " Grantchester," which he 
greatly admired ; but his poem has a freshness 
and vitahty which " Grantchester " in its rather 
elaborate technical accomphshment seems to lack. 
His third and last considerable poem, the lines 
" To my brother," were wTitten later in France. 
There is a touch of deeper feeling in them that 
shows an increase of power. I know that these 
three poems have given pleasure to many people, 
but I am unable to form any critical estimate of 
them myself. They speak so clearly and directly 
with his voice that a friend of his could no more 
anaylse his affection for the verses than he could 
analyse his affection for their writer. 

" His skill and daring were now a legend in our 
force. WTien strangers talked of great airmen 
elsewhere we said ' but you should see Day in 
V index.' This high reputation of his had the 
best of foimdations in the generous and open 
admiration of his own service. One day he came 
out to the farm with his inamediate superior, 
Fhght-Commander K. Jeff was particularly 
riotous that day and as he skirmished about the 


wood K. sat with me in the sun and told about 
Jeff's fl\ing. Jeff was the finest pilot he had ever 
known. " A light scout machine, hke a horse, 
needs the right sort of hands, and he has the 
best hands in the world. A great test — he can do 
things at slow speed that other people venture 
on with a rush only ; and of course ' said K., 
echoing C, 'he is absolutely " all out." ' That 
was the quahty in him that seemed always to 
strike others of his service as pre-eminent, that 
there was no reserve in his devotion. Others, 
even the best of officers, might sometimes slacken 
the bow, might shrink if ever so httle from the 
great and incessant dangers of their service, might 
allow some distraction to mitigate a httle their 
spirit of aggression. He never flagged or faltered, 
was never set on his duty and more than his duty 
with an intensity of purpose that was less than 
absolute. To be so, I think, cost him no con- 
scious effort. Complete devotion was his by 
nature, with all the vigour and daring that for an 
airman it imphes. To the serious and ardent 
spirit that lay beneath his gaiety, revealed to us 
by his verses only and by flashes in his talk, self- 
interest and self-consideration were imkno\\-n. 
Half-hearted ways and people he did not actively 
condemn : they did not exist for him. He might 
perhaps say of some example of shirking that it 
was ' perfectly bad ' ; but about such dead-ahve 

B 17 

things he did not trouble his head. All unknown 
to him this single-mindedness of his made him a 
great source of strength in others.. Bound to 
him by his lovableness, people shrank from any 
failure in his presence lest they should trouble 
the serenity of his devotion. It would have been 
dreadful for one of his friends to have failed in 
duty under his eye. Jeff would have smiled at 
him in a puzzled way, suspecting a joke, would 
have been sadly bothered about him for a httle, 
and would then have stopped thinking about him 
altogether, turning his thoughts to jolHer things : 
and nobody that knew him could be indifferent 
to such an exclusion. 

" His hfe at Harwich seemed to him too inactive, 
and he grew very discontented with it. He knew — 
he could not help knowing — that he was in the 
front rank as a pilot and he longed greatly for 
more active service. It could not have been 
otherwise. To a nature so ardent and resolute 
frustration in the activity in which it feels itself 
most ahve is the worst evil that can befall. So 
it was no surprise when on return from leave in 
the autumn of 1917 I learnt that he had succeeded 
in getting himself transferred to a light cruiser, 
the Cassandra, where there was promise of more 

to do. 

" He enjoyed being with the ' proper Navy ' ; 
but it turned out that in his new work he had no 


better opportunities than before and he was 
pleased when an accident to his ship sent him to 
the experimental air-station at Grain. 

" I saw him at Grain on my way back to Flanders 
(whither I had been transferred) from leave in 
October 1917. When I arrived at the flying 
ground he was away in the air and I waited for 
him at his shed. There was a senior warrant- 
officer in charge there and it was amusing to learn 
from his talk how quickly a legend had grown up 
around Jeff at Grain and how firmly his sway 
had become established. There was a fine flyer ! 
the finest ever seen at Grain. To see him bank 
vertically in his scout ! — and the other gentle- 
men had said it was impossible. Here he came 
now ; you could always tell him by the way 
he flew. 

" The tiny machine floated down and I too 
like the old warrant-officer, although I knew it 
was only our affection for the pilot that made us 
think so, had an illusion that there was something 
characteristically lively, light, and swift about 
its motion. As he brought the machine to earth 
a puff of wind caught it, and he had to turn up 
again and, flying to one side, to land with some- 
thing of a bump. The warrant-officer looked 
aside and growled ' you wouldn't often see him 
land Hke that.' He could not bear that his idol 
should not be seen to the best advantage. 


" Perhaps it was the red and brown given to 
Jeff by the great winds in which he lived and the 
sparks that shone in his eyes, but his face always 
seemed to have something smouldering in it, 
a suggestion of internal fires that were ever on 
the point of breaking through in visible flames. 
On that day his look and talk were even more 
brilliantly ahve than usual. The fresh interest of 
the difficult work that he was doing (making 
expermients with machines of novel types) had 
carried him up and away into complete absorption 
in the air. His thoughts and purposes inhabited 
a remote and high region whither a groundling 
could hardly follow them ; and then with one 
of his swift changes he returned to earth to talk 
of days that he had been spending at home on 
leave, of the river and the reeds, and of what he 
had seen at dawn and dusk on the great level of the 
fens. Now that he had begun to realise in poetry 
his love for the beauty of the world he spoke of 
these things with all a poet's confidence. They 
were the things worth caring about and people 
who did not care about them were not for him. 
He spoke of people who ' understood ' and people 
who did not understand, meaning an under- 
standing of the loveliness of the face of nature, 
and less clearly and articulately perhaps, but not 
unconsciously, of the worth of everything in life 
that is ' lovely and of good report.' 


" It was certain that he would never rest 
content with any service but the highest. Difficult 
as the work was at Grain he was still longing for 
direct action with the enemy. By urgent requests 
and by some audacity in acting upon a qualified 
assent as if it were unquahfied, he managed to 
secure his transfer to a fighting squadron on the 
western front. My battery was not far away. 
In December I heard from him that he was coming, 
and soon afterwards that he had arrived. 

" I found him next day in a company of famous 
pilots and observers. It was too soon after his 
arrival for his quality to have become known 
to them : there had not yet been time for the 
legend to grow. ' But that will not take long ' 
I thought, and truly it did not. A series of 
briUiant fights and victories soon re-established 
his fame, and when I visited him again a week 
later he was back in the middle of the stage, the 
unconscious pattern of his company. Talking 
with other airmen there and round about I found 
that to speak of him was ever to bind a common 
bond. One heard always the same thing, ' a 
great pilot and absolutely " all out " ' ; and as 
if they found the thought of him a happy and a 
heartening thing and were glad to have the 
chance of paying in generous praise something 
of their debt to him for the cheerfulness and 
inspiration that he brought into their lives, they 


would turn the conversation back to him again 
and again. 

" On Christmas Day he came up and had 
dinner with us in our dugout. We crawled 
about the top of the dunes to look at the trenches 
of the Germans, and when they began to shell 
us he professed to find it very exciting. I said 
that one could not be expected to believe that he 
found anything exciting after his experiences in 
the air ; but he answered that he never now had 
any real excitement in the air at all. At moments 
of difficulty and danger, he explained as if it were 
a matter of course, he found himself thinking 
harder and quicker than at other times, but that 
was the only difference. ' It does seem a matter 
of course ' I said to myself, ' that Jeff should be 
above fear, because it is a matter of course that 
he should be Jeff ; but it is equally a matter of 
course that other people should be different.* 
I asked him then a question which before I had 
always been ashamed to ask, did he never give a 
thought to the dangers of his service ? He sup- 
posed, he said, that he didn't. At school he had 
been an anxious httle boy, always worrying about 
things. But as soon as he began to fly he found 
that he stopped worrying or being anxious about 
anything. It was difficult to believe that Jeff 
had ever been anxious or worried ; but I thought 
that I understood how it might have seemed so 


to him. His capacity for a burning intensity of 
purpose had been there in his school-days and 
had worried him by its search for an outlet. 

" There is a photograph of him as a little boy 
with a cricket bat that has caught perfectly his 
habitual expression, and in so open a countenance 
expression and character are one. The boy 
looks at you and seems to say ' what a ripping 
business it is, you and everybody and everything,' 
and yet there is an air about him — one must not 
call it haughty, perhaps one may call it aloof — 
that says too, ' and now I hope you will get out 
of my way and let me get on with the most ripping 
business of all, the business of being Jeff.' Coupled 
with self-regarding impulses such aloofness and 
concentration make the great successes of the 
common world ; coupled as they were in him 
with impulses that are self-devoting they make 
the hero or the saint. The air blew from his 
mind all the dusts of doubt and fanned the hero 
in him into flames. 

" A few weeks later I had to take a railway 
truck down to Dunkirk to mount a new gun, and 
he came to see me in my van among the docks. 
His reputation was now high in his Wing, he had 
been made a Flight-Commander, and he had 
conspicuous victories to his credit.^ At last his 

^ " On January 25th he attacked single-handed six enemy 
triplanes, one of which he shot down; on February 2nd he 
attacked and destroyed an enemy two-seater machine on 


work was the highest to be had and gave him full 
scope for his capacities, so at last he was perfectly 
content. Fighting in the air, I heard, was the 
best thing in the world, and he talked of it so 
vividly that I could beheve myself up there with 
him, wheeling and striking Uke a hawk at a heron. 
But his best pleasure^ fine craftsman that he was, 
was not in the mere animal exhilaration of the 
fights, it was in the art and craft of them. He 
dwelt most upon how good it was to have to think 
in a flash about all the different things that there 
were to do and to invent in mid-flight new 
measures for new crises. That was I suppose 
the hall-mark of his genius as an airman ; that 
at the tremendous moments he was even more in 
possession of himself than usual. 

" We met once and twice again, and then in 
February I was recalled from France, and he came 
to see me and to say good-bye. As I hstened to 
the high confidence with which he spoke now of 
his service I thought — he is like a prince that has 
come into his kingdom. It is so natural that we 
who love him should fear for him and long that 
his danger might be less, but knowing that his 
high nature is attaining here to perfect achieve- 
ment we wrong him by our fears and behttle our 

reconnaissance at 18,000 feet. He destroyed several enemy 
machines in a short space of time, and in addition had numer- 
ous indecisive engagements." London Gazette, March i6th, 
1918 (award of d.s.c). 


own love. The Jeff that we value so much has 
his being in the exercise of courage and devotion. 
To wish that he might have less opportunity 
for their exercise is to wish that he might be less 
Jeff. If he was to rise to this height things could 
not have been otherwise, and we must be content, 
as he is. 

" I wondered then what motive or principle 
was the basis of his content in his devoted service. 
He used to talk little about abstract ideas ; his 
sense of beauty was satisfied as yet with the 
beauty of material things, the sights and sounds 
of nature and the happy states of mind that they 
induce. It was sure however that a mind so 
alert and fine had some strong relation with the 
ideas of patriotism and self-sacrifice, although un- 
expressed perhaps even to itself. So, although 
I knew that I was going to bore him I turned our 
conversation thither. He drifted away into 
silence and we arrived at the gulf of a yawn. 
But then his attention suddenly returned and he 
said, ' that's quite all right. One feels as they 
did when there were dragons to fight.' I too felt 
then that it was quite all right, and that his con- 
fession of faith was better than much elaborate 
reasoning and self-analysis. 

" When he must go we walked together down 
the trench to the comer at which his car was 
waiting. It was dark, but the flashing of the 


guns was bright enough to give me for remembrance 
a last picture of his noble head. ' Good night, 
good luck ! ' he said, and ' good night, dragon- 
slayer ! ' said I, and he whirled away." 

a • • • • 

His service, done in the spirit in which he did 
it, requires more valour and endurance than 
have ever been required of man before. He met 
the new call and did more than meet it : he 
thrust ahead and with his poet's fire Ut a new 
beacon on the path of duty. The memory of 
him and of his fellow-knights will be the treasure 
of all EngHsh hearts in after time. We bear it 
in trust for them. 

E. H. Y. 





When I am wearied through and through 
and all the things I have to do 
are senseless, peevish, little things, 
my mind escapes on happier wings 
to an old house, that is mine own, 
lichen-kissed and overgrown ; 
with gables here and gables there 
and tapered chimneys everywhere, 
with millstone hearths for burning logs, 
and kettles singing from the dogs, 
with faintest taint of willow smoke, 
and rough-hewn beams of darkened oak, 
with unexpected steps and nooks, 
and cases full of leather books — 
soft water colours, that I love, 
and in the bedrooms up above 
large four-post beds and lots of air, 
where I may He without a care 
and hear the rustle of the leaves 
and starlings fighting in the eaves. 

Around the house a garden lies, 
a many-coloured paradise, 
Vv^ith sunlit lawns and stately trees 
that murmur in the summer breeze, 
with beds of flowers, not too tame, 
all bright, and never two the same, 


and wicker chairs in shady places 

to shelter folk with honest faces : 

and, if the Lord is very good 

and all things happen as they should, 

there is a river slipping by 

clear as the depthless summer sky, 

cool to the touch, and very deep, 

quietly smiling in its sleep, 

where large, well-educated trout 

scull themselves lazily round about : 

and here, in a secluded spot, 

an ancient punt for when it's hot, 

where I can lie and read a book ; 

and a canoe to mount the brook 

which babbles on with cheerful noise, 

chattering low its little joys, 

teUing how, through Newton's wood, 

it stole, sedate and very good, 

but when it tumbled through the mill 

it thumped the old wheel with a will ; 

how the pike of Sandy Ridge 

caught the old chub below the bridge ; 

and so on, if I choose to listen, 

until the evening dewdrops glisten. 

Thus the river slowly glides, 

with soft green meadows at the sides 

and graceful trees, that form a screen 

of greeny brown and browny green. 


Down the stream a mile or two 

the fenlands come, where trees are few, 

a country very deeply blessed 

because its sunsets are the best. 

There sturdy, sad-eyed fenmen toil, 

tilling the heavy, rich-brown soil ; 

a land where the grey heron breeds, 

and wild fowl paddle in the reeds ; 

a land of molten, golden reds, 

of ripening corn, and osier beds. 

And up the stream comes rolling ground, 

with little hills, smooth-topped and round, 

and shady woods and pasture lands ; 

and far away a mountain stands — 

faint silhouette of hazy blue 

adding enchantment to the view, 

and pleasant sense of mystery 

of what the other side may be : 

and on these grass lands, in the breeze, 

I ride wherever I may please, 

and in these woods, where're I go, 

there is no man to say me no, 

My companions here are few, 
some horses and a dog or two, 
cocker spaniels, silver grey, 
with tails a wagging all the day : 
and all these servants old and tried 
are brimming up with quiet pride, 


with lots to say, and all content, 
each on the other's business bent. 
A lady too, divinely fair, 
with dark blue eyes and blue black hair, 
who may be gentle and forgiving, 
but who must know the joy of Uving : 
shall brightly smile and blithely sing 
and laugh with me at everything, 
and love the things that I love best, 
the woods, the stream, and all the rest. 
She, through the languid summer days, 
shall roam with me down shaded ways, 
and drift with me, as in a dream, 
peacefully down the tranquil stream, 
and share with me the sweet delights 
of moonlit brooks on summer nights, 
and through the howling winter days 
shall be content to sit and gaze, 
embedded in an easy chair, 
watching the firewood spark and flare. 

And other things I'll have are these, 
large breakfasts and enormous teas, 
honey and homemade bread, still hot, 
and butter from an earthen pot, 
with new laid eggs and clotted cream. 
Oh Lord !— to think it's all a dream ! ^ 

1 Note A, p. 63. 


At first, when unaccustomed to death's sting, 
I thought that, should you die, each sweetest thing, 
each thing of any merit on this earth, 
would perish also, beauty, love, and mirth : 
and that the world, despoiled and God-forsaken, 
its glories gone, its greater treasures taken, 
would sink into a slough of apathy 
and there remain into eternity, 
a mournful-minded, soul-destroying place 
wherein there would be seen no smiling face, 
where all desire to love and Uve would cease, 
and death would be the only way to peace. 
And when one day the aching blow did fall 
for many days I did not live at all, 
but, dazed and halting, made my endless way 
painfully through a tangled growth of grey 
and chnging thorns, dismal, towards belief, 
and uncontrollable, heart-racking grief. 
It could not be ! — that one so fair and strong, 
so honest-minded, and so void of wrong, 
that one who made such splendid use of life, 
whose smile could soothe the bitterness of strife 
and make a cold, hard nature warm and soft 
(who used to smile so frankly and so oft) 
should die, and leave our spirits numb and 

grief-stifled, and yet empty, sick, and breaking. 

c 33 

I prayed that God might give me power to sever 

your sad remembrance from my mind forever. 

" Never again shall I have heart to do 

the things in which we took delight, we two. 

I cannot bear the cross. Oh, to forget 

the haunting vision of the past ! " : and yet 

surely it were a far more noble thing 

to keep your memories all fresh as spring, 

to do again the things that we held dear 

and thus to feel your spirit ever near. 

This I will do when peace shall come again — ■ 
peace and return, to ease my heart of pain. 
Crouched in the brittle reed-beds wrapped in grey 
I'll watch the dawning of the winter's day, 
the peaceful, chnging darkness of the night 
that mingles with the mystic morning light, 
and graceful rushes, melting in the haze, 
while all around in winding water ways 
the wild fowl gabble cheerfully and low 
or wheel with pulsing whistle to and fro, 
filling the silent dawn with sweetest song, 
swelling and dying as they sweep along, 
till shadows of vague trees deceive the eyes 
and stealthily the sun begins to rise, 
striving to smear with pink the frosted sky 
and pierce the silver mist's opacity ; 
until the hazy silhouettes grow clear 
and faintest hints of colouring appear, 


and the slow, throbbing, red, distorted sun 
reaches the sky, and all the large mists run, 
leaving the httle ones to wreathe and shiver, 
pathetic, chnging to the friendly river ; 
until the watchful heron, grim and gaunt, 
shows, ghosthke, standing at his favourite haunt, 
and jerkily the moorhens venture out, 
spreading swift, circled ripples round about ; 
and softly to the ear, and leisurely 
querulous, comes the plaintive plover's cry. 
And then, maybe, some whispering near by, 
some still, small, sound as of a happy sigh 
shall steal upon my senses, soft as air, 
and, brother ! I shall know that thou are there. 

Then, with my gun forgotten in my hand, 
I'll v/ander through the snow-encrusted land, 
following the tracks of hare and stoat, and traces 
of bird and beast, as delicate as laces, 
doing again the things that we held dear, 
keeping thy gracious spirit ever near, 
comforted by the bhssful certainty 
and sweetness of thy splendid company. 
And in the lazy summer nights I'll ghde 
silently down the sleepy river's tide, 
listening to the music of the stream, 
the plop of ponderously playful bream, 
the water whispering around the boat, 
and from afar the white owl's hquid note 


that lingers through the stillness, soft and slow ; 
watching the little yacht's red homely glow, 
her vague reflection, and her clean cut spars 
ink-black against the stillness of the stars, 
stealthily slipping into nothingness, 
while on the river's moon-splashed surfaces 
tall shadows sweep. Then, when I go to rest, 
it may be that my slumbers will be blest 
by the faint sound of thy untroubled breath, 
proving thy presence near, in spite of death. 



Very clear and very still 

are the waters of the mill, 

starting first from yonder hill, 

making straightway for the mill, 

dewy fresh and sweetly chill 

running ever, late and early. 

First a trickle, then a rill, 

dropping down towards the mill, 

growing quickly, singing shrill — 

such a busy hurly-burly ! 

what a bustle ! what a thrill ! 

trying hard to reach the mill, 

how the little voices trill — 

" why's the silly course so curly ? " 

running, leaping with a will, 

hurrying to work the mill, 

racing noisily, until 

down the chute, all swift and swirly, 

with an eager splash, they spill 

on the old wheel of the mill, 

throwing wide a creamy frill 

of dancing foam and bubbles pearly, 

sliding onward smoothly down the sill. 



A SUDDEN roar, a mighty rushing sound, 

a jolt or two, a smoothly sUding rise, 
a jumbled blur of disappearing ground, 
and then all sense of motion slowly dies. 
Quiet and calm, the earth slips past below, 
as underneath a bridge still waters flow. 

My turning wing inclines towards the ground ; 
the ground itself glides up with graceful swing 
and at the plane's far tip twirls slowly round, 
then drops from sight again beneath the wing 
to sUp away serenely as before, 
a cubist-patterned carpet on the floor. 

Hills gently sink and valleys gently fill. 

The flattened fields grow infinitely small ; 
slowly they pass beneath and slower still 
until they hardly seem to move at aU. 
Then suddenly they disappear from sight, 
hidden by fleeting wisps of faded white. 

The wing-tips, faint and dripping, dimly show, 

blurred by the wreaths of mist that intervene. 
Weird, half-seen shadows flicker to and fro 
across the pallid fog-bank's blinding screen. 
At last the choking mists release their hold, 
and all the world is silver, blue, and gold. 


The air is clear, more clear than sparkling wine ; 

compared with this, wine is a turgid brew. 
The far horizon makes a clean-cut Hne 
between the silver and the depthless blue. 
Out of the snow-white level reared on high 
gUttering hills surge up to meet the sky. 

Outside the wind screen's shelter gales may race : 

but in the seat a cool and gentle breeze 
blows steadily upon my grateful face 
as I sit motionless and at my ease, 
contented just to loiter in the sun 
and gaze around me till the day is done. 

And so I sit, half sleeping, half awake, 

dreaming a happy dream of golden days, 
until at last, with a reluctant shake, 

I rouse myself, and with a lingering gaze 
at all the splendour of the shining plain 
make ready to come down to earth again. 

The engine stops : a pleasant silence reigns — 

silence, not broken, but intensified 
by the soft, sleepy wires' insistent strains, 
that rise and fall, as with a sweeping glide 
I slither down the well-oiled sides of space 
towards a lower, less enchanted place. 


The clouds draw nearer, changing as they come. 

Now, hke a flash, fog grips me by the throat. 
Down goes the nose : at once the wires' low hum 
begins to rise in volume and in note, 
till as I hurtle from the choking cloud 
it swells into a scream, high-pitched and loud. 

The scattered hues and shades of green and brown 

fashion themselves into the land I know, 
turning and twisting, as I spiral down 

towards the landing-ground ; till, skimming low, 
I gUde with slackening speed across the 

and come to rest with lightly grating sound. ^ 

1 Note B, p. 65. 



Dawn on the drab North Sea ! — 
colourless, cold, and depressing, 
with the sun that we long to see 
refraining from his blessing. 
To the westward — sombre as doom : 
to the eastward — grey and foreboding : 
Comes a low, vibrating boom — 
the sound of a mine exploding. 

Day on the drear North Sea ! — 

wearisome, drab, and relentless. 

The low clouds swiftly flee ; 

bitter the sky, and relentless. 

Nothing at all in sight 

save the mast of a sunken trawler, 

fighting her long, last fight 

with the waves that mouth and maul her. 

Gale on the bleak North Sea ! — 

howHng a dirge in the rigging. 

Slowly and toilfully 

through the great, grey breakers digging, 

thus we make our way, 

hungry, wet, and weary, 

soaked with the sleet and spray, 

desolate, damp, and dreary. 


Fog in the dank North Sea ! — 
silent and clammily dripping. 
Slowly and mournfully, 
ghostlike, goes the shipping. 
Sudden across the swell 
come the fog-horns hoarsely blaring 
or the clang of a warning bell, 
to leave us vainly staring. 

Night on the black North Sea !— 

black as hell's darkest hollow. 

Peering anxiously, 

we search for the ships that follow. 

One are the sea and sky, 

dim are the figures near us, 

with only the sea-bird's cry 

and the swish of the waves to cheer us. 

Death on the wild North Sea ! — 
death from the shell that shatters 
(death we will face with glee, 
'tis the weary wait that matters) :— 
death from the guns that roar, 
and the splinters weirdly shrieking. 
'Tis a fight to the death ; 'tis war ; 
and the North Sea is redly reeking ! 



Far from the hatefully restless, grey, 

drearily sighing sea, 
through God's good fields I made my way, 

wandering lazily, 
round-eyed, drinking in the scene — 
water meadows fresh and clean, 
trees and hedges strangely green, 

dreaming peacefully. 

Slowly the longed-for woods drew near, 

breathing the breath of spring, 
with scents to smell and sounds to hear 

and green rides opening ; 
until I saw my long-grassed glade, 
cool and damp in the fragrant shade, 
where the little rabbits peep and fade 
with white tails flickering. 

Where primroses and bluebells grow, 

clustering ankle deep ; 
where moss-grown tree trunks vaguely show 

and stealthy shadows creep ; 
there I lay, my thoughts reposing, 
heavy eyeUds slowly closing, 
gently dozing, gently dozing, 

till I fell asleep ; 


lulled by the nightingale's pure tone 

and the perfect song he sings ; 
lulled by the never ending drone 

of countless insect wings ; 
lulled by the sentimental dove 
ardently telhng of his love, 
by the song of the lark from the sky above, 

and the new leaves' murmurings. 

While I lay and slumbered there, 

as oft I had done before, 
breathing deep the scented air 

full of the wood's sweet lore, 
so soft and peaceful was the sound, 
so pure was everything around, 
so cool and fresh the friendly ground, 

that I dreamed there was no war. 





Have you ever sat in crystal space, enjoying the 
of an eagle hovered high above the earth, 
gazing down on man's ridiculous and infantile 
and judging them according to their worth ? 
Have you looked upon a basin small enough to 
wash your face in, 
with a few toys-ships collected by the shore, 
and then realised with wonder that if those toys 
go under 
nine tenths of Britain's navy is no more ? 

Have you seen a khaki maggot crawhng down a 
thread of cotton — 
the route march of a regiment or so ? 
Have you seen the narrow riband, unimportant, 
that tells you that the Thames is far below ? 
Have you glanced with smiling pity at the world's 
most famous city, 
a large grey smudge that barely strikes the eye ? 
Would you like to see things truly and appreciate 
them duly ? 
Well then do it, damn you, do it ; learn to fly ! 


Have you left the ground in murkiness, all clammy, 
grey, and soaking, 
and struggled through the dripping, dirty 
white ? 
Have you seen the blank sides closing in and felt 
that you were choking, 
and then leapt into a land of blazing light 
where the burnished sun is shining on the clouds' 
bright, silver lining, 
a land where none but fairy feet have trod, 
where the splendour nearly bhnds you and the 
wonder of it binds you, 
and you know you are in heaven, close to God ? 

Have you tumbled from the sky until your wires 
were shrilly screaming, 
and watched the earth go spinning round 
about ? 
Have you felt the hard air beat your face until 
your eyes were streaming ? 
Have you turned the solar system inside out ? 
Have you seen earth rush to meet you and the 
fields spread out to greet you, 
and flung them back to have another try ? 
Would it fill you with elation to be boss of all 
creation ? 
Well then do it, damn you, do it ; learn to fly ! 


Have you fought a dummy battle, diving, twisting, 
at a lightning speed that takes away your 
breath ? 
Have you been so wildl}'^ thrilled that you have 
found yourself forgetting 
that it's practice, not a battle to the death ? 
Have you hurtled low through narrow, tree-girt 
spaces like an arrow — 
seen things grow and disappear like pricked 
balloons ? 
Would you feel the breathless joys of it and hear 
the thrilling noise of it, 
the swish, the roar, the ever-changing tunes ? 

Have you chased a golden sunbeam down a gold 
and silver alley, 
with pink and orange jewels on the floor ? 
Have you raced a baby rainbow round a blue and 
silver valley, 
where purple caves throw back the engine's 
roar ? 
Have you seen the lights that smoulder on a 
cloud's resplendent shoulder 
standing out before a saffron-coloured sky ? 
Would you be in splendid places and illimitable 
spaces ? 
Well then do it, damn you, do it ; learn to fly ! 

D 49 


To mope around 

on the dull hard ground 

very many weeks together 

in the vilest weather 

is a sad delay 

for a pilot gay, 

who is very nearly dying 

for some complicated flying, 

for the whizz ! bang ! crash ! 

and the hurricane's lash 

and the wires that hum zoom ! zoom ! 

When the weather is bad, 

it's extremely sad 

to recline at leisure 

and to contemplate the pleasure 

of the coughing scream 

of a great sunbeam, 

or the rumbling voice 

of a good Rolls Royce, 

or the buzzing drone 

of a nice Le Rhone — 

the extreme exhilaration 

of a little aviation, 

and the grip and tear 

of the ice-cold air 

and the wires that hum zoom ! zoom ! 



" Machines will raid at dawn," they say. 
It's always dawn, or just before ; 
why choose this wretched time of day 
for making war ? 

From all the hours of light there are, 
why do they always choose the first ? 
Is it because they know it's far 
and far the worst ? 

Is it a morbid sense of fun 
that makes them send us day by day 
a target for the sportive Hun ? — 
who knows our way, 

and waits for us at dawn's first peep, 
knowing full well we shall be there, 
and he, when that is done, may sleep 
without a care. 

And was it not Napoleon 

who said (in French) these words, "Loi' 

lumme ! 
no man can hope to fight upon 
an empty tummy " ? 


Yet every morn we bold bird-boys 
clamber into our little buses, 
and go and make a futile noise 
with bombs and cusses. 

And every night the orders tell 
the same monotonous old story 
" machines will raid at dawn." To hell 
with death or glory ! 

Why can't they let us lie in bed 
and, after breakfast and a wash, 
despatch us, clean and fully fed, 
to kill the Boche ? 

I hate the dawn, as dogs hate soap : 
and on my heart, when I am done, 
you'll find the words engraved, " Dawn hope- 
less, streak of, one." 



Whether it be by dives and swoops or a spin or 

a graceful glide, 
whether it be by a series of loops or one long 

breathless slide, 
as long as you know where you're trying to go 
and go more or less where you're trying, 
if you want to come down, and you are coming 

coming down is the best part of flying. 

But whether it be a broken tail or a spar that 

carries away, 
or whether it be your nerves that fail or a hidden 

flaw in a stay, 
when you're thoroughly in a wing-tip spin 
and, no matter how hard you're trying, 
you're still coming down and coming down, 
then it's far the most damned part of flying. 

And when you have been from dawn's first streak 

in search of a submarine, 
and you're hungry and bored and sick and weak 

and there's never a thing to be seen, 
till at last below the hangars show, 
your wearied eyes consohng, 
and you start to come down, then coming down 
is far the best part of patrolling. 


But when there is nothing at all in sight and 

you're many a mile from home, 
and the rising sea is showing white and the 

breakers hiss and foam, 
and your engines stop and you've got to drop 
where the great grey waves are rolling, 
and you've got to come down, then coming down 
is the perfectest hell of patrolling. 

And when you've done a three-hours' flight in the 

shell-infested skies, 
numbed with the cold of the awful height and the 

fear that petrifies, 
when you know at last that the Unes are past 
and the phantom of death is fading, 
how you love coming down, and fall three miles 

down ! — 
it is much the best part of raiding. 

But if you are over hostile lands and you hear the 

shrapnel's dunt, 
and you feel your controls go slack in your hands, 

or your engine stops with a grunt, 
and you fear you are done and the Boche has won, 
and your hopes of return are fading, 
how you hate coming down ! but you've got to 

come down, 
and that is the devil of raiding. 



There is no pleasure a man may have on earth 

which can compare 
in any way with a similar pleasure that he may 

have in the air, 
wheresoever and whatsoever his dreams of bliss 

may be, 
he would enjoy them more by air than he would 

by land or sea. 
The thrill of a race or a breathless chase or the 

motion of galloping horses, 
the sight of the ground as it streaks below and the 

dangers of hard ridden courses, 
the feel of the clean cold air in his lungs and the 

slap of the air in his face, 
the rhythm, the swing, the rip and the spring, 

and the dash of the wonderful pace, 
such are joys that are hard to beat, such are 

pleasures indeed, 
but in the air they are thrice as good, for they 

happen at thrice the speed. 
The tense excitement, the savage hunts that 

big game shots adore, 
the heavy silence shattered at last by the sudden 

grating roar, 
the rustle of leaves and the stabbing light that 

splinters the solid black, 
the lightning charge when death looms large, and 

the rifle's vengeful crack, 


the howl of the wolf pack, hunger-mad in the 

hush of the starlit night — 
these are as nothing compared with the thrills 

and the grip of aerial light, 
with the roar of the engine, the tang of the wires, 

the Vickers' stuttering rattle, 
the shrieking and whooping, the mounting and 

swooping of rapidly flickering battle, 
the swift-flung curves and the shuddering swerves, 

the turning, the twisting, the spinning, 
it is triumph and terror and frenzied dehght to 

the end from the very beginning. 
The joys of saihng in unknown waters and island- 
studded seas, 
the feel of the boat as she forges along and heels 

to the touch of the breeze, 
the sound of the ripples that gurgle and bubble, 

like fairy bells artfully tinkled, 
the smell of the air and the touch on the face of 

the glittering spray, God-sprinkled, 
the glory of snaking a frail canoe through a gap 

in the foam -swept crags 
where the waters curl and eddy and swirl around 

the hidden snags. 
the flurry and froth and the eager grip where the 

mighty tide is sweeping, 
the paddle's whip at the well-timed stroke that 

sets the bireh-bark leaping, 
the pleasures of driftmg on wooded lakes, shim- 
mering, silent, and still, 


with the blue of the sky and the pines near by 

and the blue of the distant hill, 
the cast and the quivering tenseness of muscle, 

the sudden fulfilment of wish, 
the tug and the rapid bewildering tussle, the run 

of the well-hooked fish, 
the leaps and the dives as he struggles and strives, 

the sickening dread and the rapture, 
the slow, imperceptible gaining of hope and the 

ultimate glory of capture, 
the victor's return through the silent wood with 

happiness rooted throughout him, 
the sense of the glorious fitness of wonder in all 

that he sees about him, 
these are splendid things to do, things for a man to 

but not so good as the splendid things that a 

man may do up above. 
The glory of gamboUing high in the heavens in 

scenery weirdly entrancing, 
abandoned and wholly free from restraint in the 

manner of primitive dancing, 
the pleasure of being the absolute master of every 

turn and twist, 
the feel of the craft as she spins about to every 

move of the wrist, 
the satisfaction of doing each fling smooth and 

sure right through, 
of knowing that every motion done is crisp and 

clean and true, 


the joy of exploring fresh-found clouds, and 

hurtling down from the summit 
in a swerving slide down the glacier side with the 

speed of a falUng plummet, 
the power of taking the sky and the earth and 

making them do what he pleases, 
the sight of places unblemished by man and the 

touch of untainted breezes, 
the soothing noise and the graceful poise of soft 

and smooth descent, 
the placid enjoyment of being alive and the feeling 

of utter content, 
these are joys that none can better on earth or 

river or sea, 
wheresoever and whatsoever his dreams of bliss 

may be. 



When flying on a sunny day 

(and very nice and hot it was) 

I sighted something on the way ; 

I knew directly what it was. 

It was a fairy, all complete 

with wings and gauzy gowns and such 

and satin shoes on tiny feet 

and lots of jewelled crowns and such. 

As my machine was fairly fast 

I soon drew alongside on it. 

I bowed politely as I passed 

and offered her a ride on it. 

She got on board without a hitch 

of any sort or kind at all — 

it wasn't a two-seater, which 

she didn't seem to mind at all, 

for down she sat upon my knee 

and, what was very shocking too, 

she smiled bewitchingly at me 

and showed a lot of stocking too ! 

And as I am a nervous youth 

I simply sat and gazed at her 

(I was to tell the honest truth 

unpleasantly amazed at her). 

" Don't sit there Hke an ill-bred calf, 

staring and looking sickly too ! 


Be smart," she said, " and make me laugh 
and do it very pretty quickly too ! 
A pretty sort of host you make, 
most courteous and dutiful ! 
Admire my clothes for goodness' sake 
or say you think I'm beautiful." 
" Your clothes," I said, " are few and thin 
and not the least bit suitable 
for flying round the country in, 
and that is irrefutable : 
and as for you, although you do 
look perfectly delectable, 
I know of many people who 
would say you're not respectable." 
" A lot I care for them," she cried, 
"and their respectability, 
as long as you are satisfied 
with my delectability. 
To charm mankind by hook or crook 
I think all women ought to dress. 
Now don't you think that I should look 
far nicer in a shorter dress ? " 
She was a very forward maid, 
but I was getting warier 
and so I asked her what she weighed 
in pounds per unit area ; 
and what her range of speed might be, 
and had she much stabihty, 
and did she turn quite easily, 


and loop with much facihty ; 

her chassis, was it made of wood, 

and was she nice and flyable ; 

her engine, was it pretty good, 

and was it quite rehable ; 

and did it run on castor oil, 

or Castrol U unfreezable, 

and did she think an aerofoil, 

that varied, might be feasible. 

At last she interrupted me, 
" oh stop this technicality ! 

I neither know nor care a d ; 

come, show your hospitahty ! 
And, if you won't, at least you might 
endeavour to be sensible ; 
your conduct, sir (to be poUte), 
is highly reprehensible," 
And so I did as I was told, 
yet always flying higher up, 
because I hoped the awful cold 
might fairly quickly dry her up. 
And soon her hands grew shivery, 
her teeth all started chattering, 
her lips grew blue and quivery, 
but still she went on chattering 
and trying hard to make me flirt 
(I couldn't get the trick of it). 
I soon grew sick of being pert — 
I grew extremely sick of it ; 

till finally (I was ill bred) 
1 looped and dropped her out of it. 
It saved me going off my head, 
there isn't any doubt of it. 



The poems and rhymes were written during 1916 
and 1917. The last only, " To my brother," was 
written at the beginning of 1918. They were scribbled 
in pencil in notebooks, in cabin or shed or actually 
in the air. The writer was careless of stops, and 
often left alternative words or lines without deciding 
between them. 

A word of explanation is necessary of the division 
made into " poems " and " rhymes." The " poems " 
are for the most part of later date than the " rhymes " 
and were written with more serious intention. Pro- 
bably the writer would not himself have cared to have 
the "rhymes" preserved, or even the "poems," 
except one or two. " An airman's dream," the latter 
part of "To my brother," and "On the wings of 
the morning " were all that he allowed to see the 
light during his lifetime, the first two in The Spectator, 
the last in The Cornhill. But it was thought well to 
print even the slighter rhymes here, if only to show 
how, in spite of false starts, poetry will out. 

The Memoir is reprinted from The Cornhill Maga- 
zine for October 1918. 


The following is scribbled in pencil in a notebook : 
" I had put in a great deal of time in thinking of 
my perfectly good house, so all the permanent por- 
tions of it had got subconsciously shaken into a com- 
pact form, and all that I had to do was to read Rupert 


Brooke's ' Grantchester ' once, take a pencil and paper, 
and write as fast as I could until further orders. 

" From my earliest childhood I had sent myself 
to sleep and endured dull sermons by thinking of my 
house and its surroundings. 

" The house and grounds have always been the 
same, a low, rambling, many-gabled, ivy-covered, 
quaint old house, with the same arrangement of rivers, 
brooks, woods, and fens around. There have always 
been a great many spaniels, a fair number of wire- 
haired terriers, and one or two Irish wolf-hounds, 
great danes, and the like. The stables have always 
had the same horses, which I will not try to describe 
for fear of technical errors, though I know them well 
enough in my mind's eye. Always have there been 
the same boats, the canoes a birch-bark and a carvel- 
built Canadian, the same punt, the same outrigged 
two-seater, and the family barge, and the same garden 
has smiled and dreamed and droned through the 
summer days, with restful, sheltered nooks in great 
frequency : and always has there been an abundance 
of beautiful books and pictures. 

" In other directions, however, there have been 
alterations. The moat and the drawbridge that used 
to surround my house have gone. In their time 
they served me well, and often have they saved me 
from sudden surprise attacks, both by red Indians, 
and by the king's men, in Robin Hood's days. As the 
years went by, however, the drawbridge began to 
get rusty, and to squeak prodigiously every time I 
wound it up, and the moat, too, began to smell, either 
because of drainage troubles, or from the large number 


of my enemies' bodies that had been thrown into it 
with a disdainful laugh. 

"About the same time, guns began to appear in 
the room in which my score of friendly Indians, or 
trusty archers, used to keep their assorted weapons. 
As I began to be able to hit the target with my first 
rifle, the moat, the drawbridge, the Robin Hoods, 
Little Johns, Redskins, bows and arrows, tomahawks, 
spears, and swords began to disappear, and in their 
stead I protected myself with a high velocity -22 rifle, 
fitted with a telescopic sight and silencer, with which 
I used to slaughter all my enemies at a range of five 
miles or more, to their great discomfiture. Then, when 
I was promoted to a shot gun, I became a country- 
gentleman with no enemies." 


The following is from a rough draft of some chapters 
of a book about flying : 

" Flying in General. — I had quite made up my 
mind when I came down from my first flight I would 
sit down forthwith and with very great ease write 
some most superior verses on the thrill and grandeur 
of flying. Accordingly I immediately proceeded 
to evolve magnificent and fine sounding phrases 
describing what I felt sure it would be like, and to 
search diligently for suitable rhymes. 

" However when I did come down, my only 
thought was to go up again, and, as to verses, I 
neither could nor would have written them for any- 
thing on earth. 

E 65 

" Wouldn't — because my fine phrases were all 
wrong, and, anyhow, why write verses when you 
might be flying ? and couldn't — because I had as 
many impressions in my mind as there are (I won't 
say grains of sand on the seashore, for I am not such a 
preposterous liar as all that) say, feathers in a starling 
(a very good way of estimating numbers too, for the 
number depends largely on the age of the starling, 
and whether he has been plucked or not, though why 
anyone should pluck a starling, I can't say, unless he 
thought it was the right way to set about stuffing it, 
and whoever thinks that is wrong, for I once tried 
to stuff a bird that way myself, and I could make 
nothing of it). 

" However, as I was saying, my mind was very 
full of half-grasped impressions, like a small bag 
packed tight with young eels, and out of that 
seething mass I couldn't have picked one solid, 
sensibly worded impression for the life of me. 

" It was silly of me to expect to write directly after 
my first flight, for one doesn't sit down to write a 
rhapsody on strawberries and cream with a belly 
full of 'em, but with an empty belly, and a great 
desire for them." 

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